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Visa regime under scrutiny

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, George Chaponda, has said the new visa regime that was announced in October last year is being scrutinised so that the concept of reciprocity does not result in anyone being disadvantaged.

Immediately after government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security, announced that it would be imposing visas on countries that demand the same from Malawians, the US Embassy in Malawi also announced more restrictive requirements.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Times after meeting ambassadors and other heads of missions at Capital Hill on Wednesday, Chaponda said apart from strides in the macro-economic situation and the financial management system, discussions also revolved around the visa saga.

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He said government has engaged in a dialogue with countries such as the US which reduced the visa validity period for Malawians while the amount remains the same.

He said: “We are reviewing the matter so that we may retract the current requirements and proceed in the interest of reciprocity. We also noted that there are some problems in some countries because of failure to explain well to airlines.

“Some donors explained that their nationals were turned back at the airport because of the issue of visas that have not been sorted out and I am glad that we had representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs who assured them that the issue is being sorted out.”

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Chaponda added that now it is possible for foreign nationals to obtain a visa on arrival and before departure.

“Initially, there were some hurdles and they are being looked into. There is a small committee that has been established comprising ministries of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs and others that are looking into the matter,” said Chaponda.

On the macroeconomic situation, Chaponda said development partners mentioned that they would want to see more improvements before they can make any commitment.

“Some of them have shown that they might come back soon, but maybe in another form; maybe just financial support. I also mentioned to them that the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Director of Public Prosecutions are progressing well with Cashgate prosecutions, a thing which should compel the donors to come back,” said Chaponda.

He also told us that he had reiterated government’s appeal for more support to people facing hunger due to a drop in harvest as there still is a deficit of at least US$50 million (about K33 billion)

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